Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Remembering the Sprudels: West Baden’s Baseball Team

 
By Joy Neighbors

Dateline: Summer 1910 - 1916

Lee Sinclair
Baseball Diamond Inside Track
Around the turn of the 20th century, baseball was gaining in popularity. Lee Sinclair always made sure that his West Baden Springs Hotel stayed up with the times, so the introduction of a baseball diamond inside the new double decker bicycle track was right on target. Sinclair had the field illuminated with electric lights for evening games, making it the perfect place for major league teams to practice, and practice they did. Professional teams that played at West Baden included the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and the Indianapolis ABCs.

West Baden Sprudels
But Sinclair didn’t wait for major league teams come to town to entertain guests; he made sure his hotel had its own semi-professional baseball team, the West Baden Sprudels; a team that could give the professionals “a run for their money.”


Sprudel
The Sprudels were one of the early Negro teams and played as an independent club owned by Burnett- Pollard-Rogers Baseball Club Company. The name came from Sprudel, the legendary gnome said to guard Wiesbaden Spring in Germany. Adopted as the hotel mascot, Sprudel was featured on the Rookwood fireplace in the hotel atrium and was also the name given the “healthy” spring water bottled and sold by the hotel.

C.I.Taylor
Charles Isham (C.I.) Taylor managed the semi-professional Sprudels from 1910 – 1913. C.I. was one of four Taylor brothers who traveled together around the country playing baseball. On the West Baden team – C.I. (the oldest) was manager, brother “Steel Arm” John Taylor was a pitcher, “Candy” Jim Taylor played 3rd base while brother Ben Taylor was 1st baseman for the Sprudels. The brothers were known as the Famous Taylors.

C.I. Taylor was considered one of the two greatest baseball managers of all time - someone who brought out the best in his players. He began his career in 1904 as a player/manger with the Birmingham Giants before becoming manager of the West Baden Sprudels in 1910. He managed the resort’s baseball team until 1913 when he moved part of the club (mainly his brothers) to Indy to become the Indianapolis ABCs in 1914. When the Negro National League was formed in 1920, Taylor was installed as the league’s vice president; a position he served in until his death in 1922.

"Steel Arm" John Taylor
From 1910 – 1916, the Sprudels played a total of 141 games, winning 59, losing 79 and tied for three. The team did not win any league pennants or World Series games. From 1910 – 1915, the closest the team placed in the Western Independent Clubs was 4th in 1911 and 1914.






The most famous players for the team were:
"Iron Man" Dismukes

Morten Clark – Shortstop (1910, 1912-1913)

Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss – 2nd Baseman (1912, 1914)

William “Iron Man” Dismukes – Picher (1910 – 1913)

George “Chappie” Johnson – Catcher, 1st baseman, manager (1915)
"Candy" Jim Taylor

Ben Taylor – 1st basemen (1910, 1912-1913) Youngest of the Taylor brothers

“Candy” Jim Taylor – 3rd baseman (1915) Next to youngest Taylor brother

"Rabbit" Shively
“Steel Arm” John Boyce Taylor – Pitcher (1910, 1912-1913) 2nd oldest of the Taylor brothers

George “Rabbit” Shively – Left fielder (1911 – 1913)

Andrew “String Bean” Williams – Pitcher (1910, 1913 – 1914)

Although the hotel had had a baseball team since the late 1890s, the semi-professional Sprudels put West Baden on the “sports map” for several years. Guests, and locals, enjoyed visiting the resort and catching a game, night or day, with the chance to cheer on their favorite team - the West Baden Sprudels.